Greetings Brave Adventurers,
I had the great pleasure recently of chatting with Charles E Yallowitz author of Beginning of a Hero (Book 1 of The Legends of Windemere) and Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale. Charles is a great writer and a poet, as well as an all-round nice guy. If you haven’t picked up a copy of his books yet, you can do so here and here.
Charles was kind enough to grant me an interview and answer my questions, PLUS gave some news on his soon-to-be-released sequel! Read on:
1) Can you tell us a bit about your journey as a writer? What did you do before you became a full-time writer, and how did you get to be where you are today?
I’ve wanted to be an author since high school, so my journey begins there. I spent a lot of time designing a fantasy world and working on my first series, Immortal Wars. It didn’t really get off the ground, but I went to college to major in creative writing. This is where the story gets a little boring. I bounced around retail, food industry, substitute teaching, and office jobs for 10 years. This is when I thought the only way to succeed was to get a ‘stable’ life first and then the writing would fall into place. It didn’t work out that way for me. So, when I couldn’t find a stable job, I took the plunge and went the self-publishing route. That’s how I ended up here. Well, that and my wife was tired of hearing me complain about never getting a chance to make a move toward the writing dream.
2) You seem incredibly productive and busy. What does a typical day for Charles Yallowitz look like?
A typical day starts by getting up to help get my son off to the bus then getting through e-mails and blog posts. I spend a lot of time being active on WordPress because it’s very important for an author to be a presence on social media. Also, I have a lot of friends there and we get into some great conversations. I then break away to get some morning exercise in, shower, and return to my computer to get as much book writing done as possible. Then, my son comes home and I either get to continue writing or he drags me outside to play. The nights and weekends are saved for family time, reading, and outlining future ideas.
3) You are a self published author. What made you decide to take the self-publishing route over running the gauntlet of traditional publishing houses, and what advice would you give other indie authors?
Actually, I spent 10 years running the gauntlet of traditional publishing houses and agents. I got one rejection letter after another with no explanation as to why. It really wore me down to the point where I didn’t know what to do. Someone I knew in high school began publishing on Amazon and I made friends with another author that switched from traditional to self-publishing. I decided to give it a shot because I had nothing to lose.
The one piece of advice I would give other indie authors is to be ready to learn. You have to play the role of author, promoter, pricing agent, and everything else that would normally be done by an agent or publisher. Also, get involved in blogging and social media long before you publish your book. It really pays off to make friends in the business because self-published authors are a very supportive community.
4) Your debut novel, Beginning of a Hero, is an action-packed, sword and sorcery adventure. How did you come up with the concept and characters?
This series is based off a Dungeons & Dragons game that I started playing when I entered college. So, the basic concept developed as the game progressed then I evolved it to fit a book series. Many of the main characters were played by other people and they were happy to let me use them. In fact, by the end of the first year, new players were introduced to me as the ‘Game Scribe’ and told about my intentions. Still, I had to alter a lot because what works in a game didn’t always work in a book. For example, Luke is a lot more reckless in the book than in the game because the book version doesn’t have to worry about rolling dice and level 1 statistics.
5) What did you find was the hardest part of writing Beginning of a Hero?
Without adding spoilers, the hardest part was the romantic subplot. The love interest was not in the game at all, so I had to build her from the ground up. The reason it wasn’t in the game is because it was a bunch of guys and acting out a male/female romance wasn’t in the cards. Honestly, I didn’t even expect a love story to appear in this book, so it took a lot of editing runs to make sure it worked.
6) Beginning of a Hero is the first episode of a much larger series, Legends of Windemere. Where can we expect the story to go from here?
The story is going to head into a great destiny for Luke and five other heroes that will appear throughout the series. A big focus of mine is on character evolution, so the overall plot of chosen heroes against an ancient darkness is merely a vehicle for the heroes. I hope to show how these young men and women handle their destiny, which will be filled with a lot of loss, victories, and some oddly normal issues. There is also going to be a lot more magic and monsters once Luke leaves the academy.
7) We are all eagerly awaiting the sequel, Prodigy of Rainbow Tower. Can you give us a teeny hint as to when we might be getting it? Pleeeeese?
The plan is to make it a June release. I’m hoping to release it on June 8th, but I haven’t received my cover art yet. Once I get the cover, I’ll do a little pre-release hype and debut the book.
8) You are not only a prose writer, but you also have a book of poetry. Can you tell us a bit about the Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale?
Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale is a small collection of fantasy poems that I wrote a few years ago. Each poem is about a unique creature found in the hidden land of Blatherhorn Vale. I tried to design beasts from every niche from small fish to large horse-like creatures. It was a lot of fun to think of these creatures and show how they live through poetry.
9) What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received, and what is the worst?
The best writing advice is more a backhand compliment by my 12th grade English teacher. He said the following to my parents during a parent/teacher meeting:
“Charles may never write the great American novel. Then again, he might write it just to prove me wrong.”
The worst writing advice has been ‘show, don’t tell’. I get this thrown at me a lot and nobody knows how to explain what they mean. I think some people use it because it sounds right and it’s all they can come up with. I tend to ignore it unless it’s backed up with more information.
10) And finally, what is a question you wish someone would ask you about your writing, but never has.
Nobody ever asks me about the gods in my books. So, the question I would like to be asked is, ‘Where did I come up with the gods of Windemere?’
11) Answer it!
I wanted them to be similar to the gods of Greek mythology. In most fantasy stories that I’ve read, the gods are either absent, only prayed to for holy power, or physically involved in mortal lives. I tried to find a middle ground with them by having them be a physical, real presence, but held by a law that prevents them from getting constantly involved.
As far as individual gods go, I made most of them as I created characters that required a new deity. The only ones that I made during the planning stage was Gabriel the God of Destiny and Zaria the Purity Goddess. These two set a standard among the gods that will slowly be revealed and lead to a few future series that revolve around the major events of the gods.
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If you would like more information on Charles E Yallowitz, or his novels, do check out his wordpress site Legends of Windemere.
My review of Beginning of a Hero is here.